Does your team seem to a little blasé about their jobs? Is their watercooler chat revolving more around other job opportunities than a recent workplace initiative? Are they more focused on their Instagram feeds than growing your business into new markets? You’re not alone.
Employee engagement, it seems, is at an all-time low. Psychometrics Canada, a firm that offers human resources assessment tools and consulting services to companies, surveyed more than 350 HR professionals across a range of industries, and 69 per cent said low levels of employee engagement was a serious problem at their company.
And employees agree. According to an Employee Engagement Index put together by the Canada Human Resources Centre, 60 per cent of respondents said they were not happy at work, while another 15 per cent reported being actively disengaged. (Things aren’t much rosier south of the border, where Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report shows that 70 per cent of workers are disengaged.)
Why you should care
If the prospect of an unhappy workforce doesn’t faze you, it should. After all, disengagement doesn’t just affect the wellbeing of the individual worker. When employees are unhappy, when they feel powerless, when they don’t feel like they are being listened to, when they don’t feel appreciated, it can impact businesses in a major way.
Increased absenteeism and higher turnover rates are very real issues, but there are even bigger problems that disengaged employees can bring: dysfunctional work relationships, lower productivity, and a strict work-to-rule ethic, just to name a few. In the end, employee disengagement poses a huge problem for a company’s bottom line.
In fact, according to the Canada Human Resources Centre, employee disengagement costs North American businesses some $350 billion annually in lost productivity.
On the other hand, when employees are engaged in their work, they show higher levels of performance, commitment, and loyalty. They’re more willing to put in extra hours, and more likely to come up with creative ideas to solve problems – not to mention put a golden touch on customer relationships.
What you can do about it
According to the Psychometrics Canada survey, employees expect their company to take an active role in keeping them engaged.
Here are five easy – and cost-effective – ways to boost employee engagement.
1. Listen to your employees
And not just listen – hear them out on their opinions. When employees feel like their ideas matter, trust and motivation levels soar, and reaching company goals becomes a lot more feasible.
2. Clearly communicate expectations
When expectations have been set, it’s easier to offer constructive criticism when improvement is needed. Communicating expectations also fosters a sense of support and cooperation, and encourages team members to find solutions. Just remember to throw a “thank you” in there, too.
3. Support learning and professional development
While managers tend to believe employees leave their jobs for more money, that’s not necessarily the case. Most people who quit their jobs do so for better skills and career advancement prospects – and, quite simply, more interesting challenges elsewhere. Keep your team engaged (and loyal) by offering them development and learning opportunities on their home turf.
4. Be transparent
Your relationship with your employees needs to be built on mutual respect, flexibility, and kindness. This helps to build trust – which will, in turn, encourage your team to be happier, more loyal, and more trustworthy as well.
5. Tweak the work environment
We know that office design can have a big impact on worker happiness. While new digs or a complete reno may not be in order, there are smaller tweaks you can make. Incorporating colour, or opening up the space can foster collaboration and creative thinking, which make for happier employees.
There are lots of ways to make sure your employees are happy and fulfilled, but the most important one is simply engaging with them on a personal level. Ask them how you can make the workplace more inspiring, challenging and motivating. In short, connecting with your team goes a long way in building trust and mutual respect – and, in turn, engagement.
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